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Is there a way to close the lid on a MacBook without putting it sleep? This would be useful when connecting the macbook to an external display, for instance.

I've never been able to figure it out myself, but here is a picture from LifeHacker where it looks like it is being done.

enter image description here

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I am not starting a flame war. I don't use macs. I don't care about them even. Just curious: Is it really not possible to do it via settings? Because my laptop has the same setting right now, and I am quite sure it is not a Dell specific setting, but a general Control Panel one. –  Anurag Kalia Mar 7 '13 at 22:07
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8 Answers 8

up vote 19 down vote accepted

You most definitely can. It is even documented on Apple Support

tl;dr: Plugging in an using an external keyboard and mouse will wake the device, even if the lid is shut

Apple Portables: How to use your computer in closed clamshell (display closed) mode with an external display

If you are using a wired keyboard and mouse:

  • Make sure the computer is plugged in to an outlet using the AC power adapter.
  • Connect a USB keyboard and mouse to your computer.
  • With the computer turned on connect the Apple portable (using the appropriate Apple adapter if necessary) to the appropriate port on the external display or projector and turn the display or projector on.
  • Once your computer's Desktop appears on the external display, close the computer's lid.
  • Once the lid is closed, wake the computer up by either clicking your mouse button or by pressing a key on your external keyboard.

You should now be able to use your Apple portable as you normally would, using your USB keyboard and mouse.

The process is a little bit different if you are using a wireless keyboard and mouse. To check that out, or and further details, see Apple Portables: How to use your computer in closed clamshell (display closed) mode with an external display on Apple Support.

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Thanks for taking the time to type this answer up. –  James McMahon Sep 12 '09 at 4:18
    
No worries! –  David Pearce Sep 12 '09 at 10:50
    
I tried to get this to work all day, without success. The trick in getting it to work was: 1) set your display to Mirroring mode 2) close the lid 3) wait for the external HDD to power down 4) click the mouse button or press a key to get the computer to re-awaken –  lo_fye Nov 17 '09 at 4:26
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Try using InsomniaX.

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Thanks I will give that a try. –  James McMahon Sep 10 '09 at 5:09
    
You don't need this software. It does work, although occasionally it gets a little "confused". One way I found to force it to realise what was going on was to plug in the keyboard, mouse, screen, and then hit restart and shut the lid just as the screen went black... it would then correctly reboot with the lid closed and output to the screen. –  Jon Grant Sep 10 '09 at 11:52
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Sorry by "it does work" I meant the built-in Mac OS X does correctly work with the lid shut without any extra software. –  Jon Grant Sep 10 '09 at 11:53
    
I believe InsomniaX works even if you don't connect a keyboard and monitor. So if you want to keep your computer running all night with the lid closed and no external screen or keyboard, this is the best option - although I think that Apple should make this possible by default. –  SPRBRN Jan 2 '13 at 8:32
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I've just started using NoSleep, it seems wonderful and does the job cleanly (http://code.google.com/p/macosx-nosleep-extension/).

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I researched around and came across a project to keep my MacBook on without having to keep my keyboard or mouse in since I hate having to go get them to plug into my Mac. Here is the project's page https://code.google.com/p/macosx-nosleep-extension/

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Linking directly to the extension's project page (rather than just to the blog post) would have been preferable, as it prevents link rot. –  Dennis Jan 2 '13 at 8:05
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I did some additional research and found this MacRumors thread.

Actually if you have a keyboard or mouse connected to it, with the PSU connected as well, you can close the laptop wake it back up. The Monitor will become the default screen, and the screen on the laptop stays off.

I haven't confirmed that this works.

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Yup, this is exactly how it works once an external monitor is connected. –  Darren Greaves Sep 10 '09 at 8:51
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I do this without an external keyboard or mouse - I use synergy to connect to it over the network instead.

When I close the lid it goes to sleep, I then have one of two ways of waking it.
One way is to plug in a USB device (usually my external hard drive I use for Time Machine).
The other way is via wake-on-lan - I run etherwake on my Linux box with the Macbook's MAC address and it wakes up.

Wake-on-lan only works if you had put the computer to sleep via the menu option - it won't work if you put it to sleep by closing the lid. USB connections always work though.

I think both these options may need enabling in the Macbook's preferences - I can't be 100% sure as I set it up this way ages ago.

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Also if you're running windows you can just change what closing the lid does in the power options. Handy for anyone on bootcamp who wants to do this

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If you turn on Internet Sharing in the Sharing Control Panel, your MacBook will not go to sleep with the lid closed.

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